Place Category: Education & Training
Plymouth was the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of working as a genuine social enterprise, caring for communities and protecting the planet.
As well as being a social enterprise in its own right, Plymouth University acts as a driving force, using world-class research and entrepreneurial expertise to boost social enterprise in the community, helping to drive sustainable growth by creating jobs, wealth and social cohesion.
Our Futures Entrepreneurship Centre is a place for experimentation and creativity, connecting students, academics, researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs.
Students and staff can enter the Formation Zone Business Challenge, sponsored by Santander Universities, to access support for their business ideas and a prize package.
Our regular events around social enterprise bring together socially-minded individuals from all over the country to share ideas, knowledge and experiences, and inspire others. We run webinars, workshops and conferences, and are actively developing links with universities internationally to create impact.
Recent projects include a global research study on social enterprise and HEIs for the British Council, a pan-European programme providing training tools for vocational trainers, and a joint project with an Indian HEI to create a social enterprise formation zone in Orissa.
Find out more at: www.plymouth.ac.uk/socialenterprise
Social Impact Statements:
Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders must submit Social Impact Statements that summarise their headline activities and achievements, helping show how they are striving to make a difference and stand up to scrutiny of purpose as a social enterprise.
1) Restoration of Drake’s Place as a community space
Our vision was to sensitively and sustainably regenerate historically significant Drake’s Place Reservoir and Gardens, a dilapidated site at the heart of the most diverse and transient community in Plymouth, where many people have little or no access to green space and nature, and life expectancy is one of the lowest in the city.
Reinstating Drake’s Place as a thriving green community space has engendered local pride, enhanced well-being, and helped ensure that the site’s heritage is conserved for future generations.
44 formal visitor counts and 9 visitor surveys have been completed post restoration (since 2014), showing a marked increase in both user numbers and range of visitors, and visitor satisfaction. Numerous community events with city partners have been held in Drake’s Place along with many student and staff events and activities – from Make and Take events throughout the year to a Sea Portraits Exhibition in this space as part of the Plymouth Ocean City Festival in September 2016.
Drake’s Place won two awards in the city’s 2014 Abercrombie Awards: Best Public Space, and the People of Plymouth Award (voted for by the public). In 2015, the space received Green Flag accreditation by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy in recognition of its good maintenance, sustainability and community involvement and retained this accreditation through mystery shopping in July 2016.
Drake’s Place has a growing social media presence with almost 900 friends on Facebook and over 500 followers on Twitter, and regular visitors to its dedicated web pages at www.plymouth.ac.uk/drakesplace.
Our success in Drake’s Place has evolved into a University-wide Come On In campaign to truly engage the local community in activities from public lectures, exhibitions and performances, free eye and dental care, through to public engagement in research or voluntary/fundraising activities (eg. for Brain Tumour Research and other charity partners) - for example, during the past year 267 students delivered 88,210 clinical procedures across 20,182 appointments.
During 2015/16 we hosted over 40 volunteers in Drake's Place from local school pupils undertaking their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award to members of the local community. We most recently introduced a small wooden duck house to the reservoir to accommodate a breeding pair of ducks, whose subsequent off spring have become very popular amongst our regular staff, student and community visitors.
2) Key measures and stakeholders
There are 3,000 Plymouth University staff and 21,000 students, plus a further 17,000 studying for a University of Plymouth award at institutions both in the UK and overseas - we're hoping to establish a bespoke social investment fund for emerging student social enterprises. We also reach out to potential staff and students of Plymouth University, and their influencers (eg. parents, peers etc) plus alumni (former students and staff).
Through UPSU (Students’ Union) our students delivered 23,093 volunteer hours in 2015/16 and supported students in fundraising £327,849 for local and national charities.
We work with partners and their networks, for example Plymouth Guild and Plymouth City Council,and Crowdfund Plymouth, pioneering the use of Community Infrastructure Levy to fund sustainable community projects.
We also engage with the local community; the general public as well as community groups, including Friends of Drake’s Place, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, Plymouth U3A, Plymouth Guild etc.
We work with entrepreneurs/social entrepreneurs, supported across the region by our Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. This includes:
- Formation Zone on campus
- Regional Innovation Centres delivered in Cornwall on behalf of Cornwall Council
- Partnership with Plymouth Science Park
We're members of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN) and 148 Social Enterprises have been supported through a Social Enterprise engagement programme. Gareth Hart is our Social Entrepreneur in Residence. We're also partners in the SEEDBED programme offering social investment to existing social enterprises across the South West.
We engage with the business community (individual enterprises and business networks such as Chambers of Commerce and Devon & Cornwall Business Council) through our partnerships approach, Enterprise Solutions and GAIN.
We also work with international partners - for example, a Plymouth University project funded by a Comic Relief grant has supported the start-up of over 25 new agro-vet shops, employed over 60 members of staff and run almost 190 community events in the Kiambu County region of Kenya* (see below for further details).
3) Entrepreneurship as a catalyst for empowerment and poverty alienation
The extent to which entrepreneurship is a catalyst for empowerment and poverty alleviation among women refugees in Arab countries is a new area of study being led by Dr Haya Al-Dajani, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship in Plymouth University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.
Working with collaborators at the University of Nottingham, and researchers in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Dr Al-Dajani is analysing entrepreneurship as a sustainable means of poverty alleviation.
Many women refugees are known to produce traditional crafts from within their homes as a means of heritage expression and social identity, as this is all they have left of their homeland. Through their micro enterprises, they get the opportunity to engage with others beyond their family members, which also enhances their general wellbeing.
The three-year study, funded by the ESRC with the Department for International Development, will assess the impact of institutional support from governmental and other aid agencies on displaced Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities, to develop recommendations that enhance the effectiveness of aid programmes across the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Dr Al-Dajani will work with several distinct refugee communities residing in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey:
- Palestinians who left their homeland following the Six-Day War of 1967;
- Iraqis who either fled during the first Gulf War in 1990 or in 2003 following the fall of Saddam Hussein;
- Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war in their nation
The ultimate aim is to develop guidance and policies that will be shared with governments and agencies in the Middle East, as well as other nations which have refugee populations such as Somalia and Sudan.
*This Kenyan project is ongoing and has just been awarded new Comic Relief funding, and in addition:
- We have just completed the first phase of a global research study for the British Council on HE involvement in social enterprise
- We are running a joint social enterprise programme with Xavier Institute of Business Management in Bhubundeswar, Orissa to provide incubation and resource facilities to Indian street traders through social enterprise